Gulfport, Mississippi is helping the small town of Rockport, Texas in a big way.

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
September 21, 2017
Gulfport Police
Credit: Gulfport Police Department

In 2005, the Mississippi Gulf Coast endured severe destruction from Hurricane Katrina's wrath. Like many towns in the affected regions, they relied on the kindness and emergency relief efforts of Southern neighbors in Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and beyond.

Now, Gulfport, Mississippi is paying that good karma forward and lending a hand to Texans in need after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Southeastern part of the state.

Gulfport Police
Credit: Gulfport Police Department

Together, the City of Gulfport, the Gulfport Police Department, and the Gulfport Fire Department are partnering with Rockport, Texas to provide support for the town. The small coastal community of around 10,600 residents was the point of landfall for Hurricane Harvey—and many homes were destroyed or severely damaged.

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Earlier this month, Gulfport kicked off their efforts by providing Rockport first responders with breakfast, lunch, and a dinner cookout on Wednesday, September 7th. "We spent that time with them after-hours telling them about how the next few weeks, days, months, and years will go. We offered them things to look for and tips for recovery," said Gulfport Police Department's Public Information Officer, Sgt. Joshua Bromen.

While traveling around town, no task was too big or too small for the Gulfport crew. They showed families how to use generators (many of which they delivered themselves).

They pitched in with cleanup. They cleared out debris. Sometimes, officers simply offered strangers a warm hug or high five. "We were able to deliver over $11,000 in gift cards to the city, along with countless other supplies donated from our wonderful community," adds Bromen.

Gulfport Police
Credit: Gulfport Police Department

"This was a life-changing event for me," Officer Nate Abbott said of the experience after returning home and discussing with fellow officers what they took away from the service trip.

On the anniversary of Katrina—just a few days after Harvey's landfall, Gulfport mayor, Billy Hewes, even penned a heartfelt letter to Rockport's mayor and chief of police. "The best advice I can offer, at this time, is to keep the faith. You have seen the worst of Mother Nature, but in the coming days, months, and years you will see the best of humanity. Things will get better," Hewes wrote.

As Rockport works to rebuild and rebound from the catastrophic hurricane, Gulfport intends to stand proudly by its side. Currently, the city of Gulfport is looking to secure a trailer for officers to use for extended stays in Rockport of up to a week. They plan on making their second trip in early October.

For updates and more information of how you can help, visit Gulfport Police Department's Facebook page here.